Safe Weed & Feed? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 06-01-2005, 03:57 AM - Thread Starter
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We moved to our house last year and have tons of yard - 3 large lawns....maybe about 1/2 an acre or a bit more. Anyways, our lawn is sick-looking and has more weeds than grass. I've been outside everyday for the past couple weeks digging out the dandelions, and I see now it is a losing battle. My husband wants to put weed & feed on the lawn - something that kills plants/weeds, but not the grass. But I said no way. I don't want my 13 month old son crawling and walking on those chemicals. But our "lawn" is just getting worse and worse...more and more weeds are choking out the grass every day. Is there a safe something that can be put on the grass to kill the weeds? My husband says he would treat the lawn with weed & feed and he thinks that if we waited 2 weeks for my son to go out on the lawn that it would be safe. But I don't know....
Any info would be greatly appreciated!
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#2 of 8 Old 06-01-2005, 12:21 PM
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Have you checked Gardens Alive?
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#3 of 8 Old 06-02-2005, 02:06 AM
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JMHO the reason your yard has weeds is that the soil has been damaged. Weed and Feed will not repair damaged soil but will simply give short term superficial results. It is a shortcut and it will be needed over and over and over and over evrey year... if soil fertility is not built up. Unfortunately, "instant" results are what is desired. Working with nature will give better results but may take longer.

Damaged soil may be seriously compacted or badly maintained in the past. Think about compost and organic fertilizers. If you create a fertile environment for the grass then the grass will win against the weeds. But I discourage monoculture grass as it is difficult so unnatural. Let the dandelions go! They have a worse rap than they deserve--just mow them with the rest and soon the flowers will dissappear and the leaves will completely blend in. They even draw up nutrients from deep in the soil with their taproots--that is why they naturally grow in poorer soils in order to shift the balance for other plants to grow in the richer soil after them.

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#4 of 8 Old 06-03-2005, 04:52 AM - Thread Starter
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I think you are right - I think our soil is damaged. The grass in the worst part of our property is so sparse and thin. There is a section of "lawn" where there is actually no grass, just chickweed and dandelions. When I dig the dandelions out, I can only get down with a knife about 1 inch from the top of the soil and then it feels like I hit rock. We were told we can't use a composter out here because the neighbors complained about the smell, so when we moved in we took the unused composter out. I know nothing of composting though.
Thank you deeporgarten for sharing your knowledge.
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#5 of 8 Old 06-03-2005, 11:19 AM
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Properly done compost does not smell.

THe folks who were doing it before you, must have been doing something wrong.

Stench means anaerobic bacteria and that is NOT what you want in your compost pile.

I agree about amending your soil. Feed your dirt!
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#6 of 8 Old 06-03-2005, 04:49 PM
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Maybe you could so something like lasagna gardening to get the soil softer and work some nutrients in. I'd also suggest choosing which part you want really nice and concentrate on that first. For the rest, just keep it mowed short and maybe add some topsoil or compost (you can get bags of it at Home Depot) just to start improving hte soil for when you're ready to tackle it further. We're dividing our very large backyard and only keeping the part near the house very nice, the rest will be left to the weeds for now

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#7 of 8 Old 06-03-2005, 05:44 PM
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I was just reading this month's gardening info on my environmental calendar. It was talking about how dogs who live in homes that use weed and feed have been found to have MUCH higher rates of cancer. This would apply to your little babe as well. So don't go there!

What they recommended was letting the grass clippings when you mow stay on the lawn - they will decompose fast and help the grass to grow.

If you get a worm composter, it's not even exposed to the air the way a pile compost is, and your neighbors wouldn't even know you had one!

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#8 of 8 Old 06-04-2005, 02:37 AM
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We've been renovating our lawn for about three years now. Our first serious and most effective step was to power rake the lawn, spread well-aged compost to 1/2", and overseed with high quality grass seed. It made such a difference, people stopped and commented on the improvement. We continued to apply soil amendments like compost and over-seeding tough areas until last fall.

We mow high in the spring and summer to help shade out weed seedlings, increase drought tolerance and make the grass look lusher. Lower setting for fall as grass goes dormant. We always leave clippings to decompose naturally.

We switched this year to corn gluten. I didn't use it before because we had large areas that needed re-seeded. Corn gluten works against weeds by allowing them to sprout but not spread roots. New grass is also affected. So it made the most sense for us to work on improving the soil and growing grass where needed, then switch to maintenance weed control and feeding. Corn gluten breaks down and provides nitrogen to the grass as well, so it is a natural weed and feed.

It does cost more than 4 bags of Scotts, I will admit. And our yard is not weed free in the conventional sense. We have some dandelions, clover, and other weeds. But it is not mostly weeds, the grass is so healthy looking, it looks greener and lusher than the 'lawn service' lawn next store. I don't worry about my kids playing on it, we have tons of earthworms in the soil, the wildlife is happy, I'm happy. We have a lawn that is barefoot worthy!

I bought my corn gluten at Garden's Alive, they call it WOW, but I wouldn't buy it there again. Here is a link describing why with some other resources.
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